ON TWEETS AND RETWEETS, CRISES AND OPPORTUNITIES

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a courageous act.”
George Orwell

ON TWEETS AND RETWEETS, CRISES AND OPPORTUNITIES

So many of you have written to me to ask what my reaction has been to the February 17 tweet by one Tony Annett that said EWTN should be under interdict until they “get rid of Raymond Arroyo,” a remark retweeted by a papal advisor.

My immediate reaction was confusion. If it had been April 1, I’d have thought it was an April Fools Day remark. That confusion turned to consternation, however, as I considered the source of the retweet.

What prompted that tweet and retweet? It seems to be this tweet from Edward Pentin on February 16: .@RobertSRoyal and @GeraldMurray8 dissect @antoniospadaro’s speech at Georgetown, the Vatican’s approach to China and @CardinalBCupich’s seminars on #AmorisLaetitia on @worldoverdc with @RaymondArroyo https://youtu.be/rYh3jMo49xU
11:05 PM – 16 Feb 2018

On February 17, we read: Tony Annett Retweeted Edward Pentin
Tony Annett‏ @tonyannett Feb 17 Make no mistake, these attacks on @antoniospadaro and @CardinalBCupich represent “total war” on the papacy of Pope Francis. Time to interdict @EWTN until they get rid of @RaymondArroyo.

We then read that Fr. Antonio Spadaro retweeted Tony Annett’s tweet.

When you retweet, it either means you agree with what you retweeted (I’ve done it scores of times with tweets from Pope Francis) and let it go without commentary OR you disagree and then comment and explain why.

Fr. Spadaro (I visited his site and only read a very small portion of his over 32,000 tweets!) did not make a comment so I am assuming he agreed with Annett.

Why would he? Who is he?

Who is Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J. in addition to being a Jesuit confrère of Pope Francis and editor-in-chief of the Jesuit-affiliated magazine Civilta Cattolica?

He is a papal confident who, I have been told by numerous colleagues in the media and friends, lay and priests alike, in the Roman Curia, has the papal ear 24/7. While Pope Francis has the C9 cardinal advisors and talks to other people and meets regularly with heads of office and dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and is said to listen to them when they answers his questions or when they office advice, it seems he really listens to Spadaro.

If you were an avid reader of Fr. Spadaro’s speeches and his tweets, you’d come to know his liberal bent on many matters, as you would his little or no love for the United States.

How does Fr. Spadaro feel about America, and how many of his feelings and ideas has he transmitted to Pope Francis, whom he sees more than regularly at the Santa Marta residence?

Here is one reaction (and I could post many more!) to a Civilta Cattolica piece from last July about religion in America (Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture):

With a harsh denunciation of American conservatism, published in the semi-official Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, the Vatican has plunged headlong into a partisan debate in a society that it clearly does not understand, potentially alienating (or should I say, further alienating) the Americans most inclined to favor the influence of the Church.

Why? Why this bitter attack on the natural allies of traditional Catholic teachings? Is it because the most influential figures at the Vatican today actually want to move away from those traditional teachings, and form a new alliance with modernity?

The authors of the essay claim to embrace ecumenism, but they have nothing but disdain for the coalition formed by Catholics and Evangelical Protestants in the United States. They scold American conservatives for seeing world events as a struggle of good against evil, yet they clearly convey the impression that they see American conservativism as an evil influence that must be defeated.

While they are quick to pronounce judgment on American politicians, the two authors betray an appalling ignorance of the American scene. The authors toss Presidents Nixon (a Quaker), Reagan, Bush, and Trump into the same religious classification, suggesting that they were all motivated by “fundamentalist” principles. An ordinary American, reading this account, would be surprised to see the authors’ preoccupation with the late Rev. Rousas Rushdoony and the Church Militant web site: hardly major figures in the formation of American public opinion. The essay is written from the perspective of people who draw their information about America from left-wing journals rather than from practical experience.

To continue: https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=1228

What we seem to have in Fr. Spadaro and Tony Annett is a visceral dislike of anyone or any entity that disagrees with or questions or criticizes Pope Francis.

If you started to list those who have questioned the Holy Father because he has not been clear about something or he has caused confusion or people simply want him to resolve a matter, that list would include cardinals, bishops, priests, scholars, theologians and faithful, committed lay Catholics. There are those who indeed have challenged the Pope but the majority are simply people who want to resolve a doubt.  And when a doubt is about the Church teaching, doctrine, morals or Magisterium, it must be cleared up.

I remember in high school getting a homework assignment wherein the teacher had not been clear at all what she wanted us to do. She was known for being overly verbose and often unclear (derailed from her original thought) when explaining something. I raised my hand to ask her what she meant and heard my classmates whisper, ‘thanks, Joan, I didn’t understand that either.’

The teacher was not happy to be questioned but soon understood I was not the only one who didn’t understand the assignment, and she repeated it, her explanation was clear and that was that.

Here’s another take on the now famous – or infamous – tweet from Robert Royal, This appeared as a Note before his column yesterday in “The Catholic Thing”:

Note: Heartfelt thanks to all of you who expressed support and offered prayers over the past few days after stories appeared about a retweet by Antonio Spadaro S.J., a close collaborator of the Holy Father’s, calling on EWTN to fire Raymond Arroyo for his criticisms of various recent papal moves (and no doubt for the now five-year run of the Papal Posse). Or be placed under interdict.

This was either a weak attempt at intimidation or a lame attempt at humor – in either case, quite imprudent from someone who knows that what he says is taken, rightly or wrongly, to reflect back on Pope Francis.

Be assured, this portends no serious harm to me. This is why we have independent think-tanks and publications like The Catholic Thing, so that at least some in both Church and society may speak freely. Fr. Murray is most likely fine as well. But it’s not entirely a laughing matter for a prominent media figure like the talented Mr. Arroyo. If you want to express support, take a look at #imwithRaymond.

In any case, it will have no effect on our labors to understand and speak truth as we see it. – RR

And here’s the column that followed that Note: Three Crises – and Three Opportunities:

A wickedly funny website on matters Catholic, Ignatius His Conclave, recently pointed out that, in the currently casual logic of the Church, Communion for the divorced and remarried is:
1) a conscience matter (Cardinal Blase Cupich in February), or
2) subject to local regulation, which may lead to differences among bishops and national bishops’ conferences (the pope in Amoris laetitia and various spokesmen at various times), or
3) that “there are no other interpretations” than that of the Argentine bishops, since the papal letter saying so was published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (June 2017).
Which of these mutually exclusive possibilities is now normative, or will be at some future date, is anybody’s guess.

Read on to learn more about the Three Crises and Three Opportunities:
https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2018/02/26/three-crises-and-three-opportunities/

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ON THAT STRANGE, DISTURBING, AND ANTI-AMERICAN “CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA” ARTICLE

The following article is yet another refutation of the recent article in the Jesuit magazine, Civilta Cattolica, that has led many to write critically about it, often coming to the same conclusion as the title of Samuel Gregg’s piece suggests. I found this riveting on the first reading. A second reading is on my agenda.

Dr. Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has written and spoken extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. He is the author of many books, including Becoming Europe (2013) and For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (2016).

ON THAT STRANGE, DISTURBING, AND ANTI-AMERICAN “CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA” ARTICLE

It’s curious that whoever signed off on this article (assuming it was properly vetted) at the Secretariat of State didn’t pick up on the authors’ conflation of tangentially related matters, or raise questions about the article’s emotivist tone, or alert Father Spadaro and Rev. Figueroa to their distinctly amateur grasp of American religious history and the finer points of American politics.

Anti-Americanism is as old (if not older) as the American Revolution itself. Like all nations, America has its flaws. But these defects attract disproportionate attention from the rest of the world. This is partly because of the size and worldwide reach of America’s media as well as the United States’ superpower status. On a global scale, the choices made by, say, Argentina and Italy just aren’t as important for international affairs as decisions made by the United States.

Civilta Cattolica – No. 4000

Some of the most insightful analyses of America have been written by non-Americans. The exemplar is Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835/1840). Yet despite the scale and intensity of the attention given to the United States, it’s not hard to find articles written by intelligent non-Americans which reflect serious misunderstandings and occasional outright ignorance of the political, economic and cultural currents shaping America.

This brings me to a very odd article that recently appeared in La Civiltà Cattolica: the Italian Jesuit periodical published twice a month and which enjoys a quasi-official status inasmuch as the Vatican’s Secretariat of State exercises oversight over the articles it publishes. Entitled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” its authors Father Antonio Spadaro SJ (Civiltà Cattolica’s Editor-in-chief) and Rev. Marcelo Figueroa (a Presbyterian pastor who is Editor-in-chief of L’Osservatore Romano’s Argentinean edition), make various assertions about specific political and religious trends in the United States: claims which are, at best, tenuous and certainly badly informed.

Consider, for instance, the authors’ analogy between the theological outlook of particular strands of American Evangelicalism and ISIS. As far as I am aware, American self-described fundamentalists are not destroying 2000 year-old architectural treasures, decapitating Muslims, crucifying Middle Eastern Christians, promoting vile anti-Semitic literature, or slaughtering octogenarian French priests. Another questionable contention made in the article is that the Holy Roman Empire was constituted as an effort to realize the Kingdom of God on earth. This particular analysis will come as news to serious historians of that complicated political entity which became, as the saying goes, neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire.

To read the entire analysis by Samuel Gregg, click here: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/07/14/on-that-strange-disturbing-and-anti-american-civilta-cattolica-article/

 

CIVILTA CATTOLICA MARKS 4000TH EDITION, FEATURES PAPAL Q&A WITH SUPERIORS GENERAL – BRIEF TAKES FOR THURSDAY….

CIVILTA CATTOLICA MARKS 4000TH EDITION, FEATURES PAPAL Q&A WITH SUPERIORS GENERAL

Pope Francis had a really busy Thursday as he met with Jesuits who write for the Civiltà Cattolicà magazine, currently celebrating its 4000th edition, addressed the plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education and met with a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League.

Corriere della Sera published an English translation of Fr. Antonio Spadaro’s account of a three-hour meeting and Q&A session that Pope Francis held last November 25th with 140 superiors general of male reliigious congregations. That conversation was published in edition No. 4,000 of Civilta Cattolica, whose editor is Fr. Anttonio Spadaro: http://www.corriere.it/english/17_febbraio_09/pope-francis-there-is-corruption-the-vatican-but-m-at-peace-5f115a68-eeaa-11e6-b691-ec49635e90c8.shtml

In his Thursday meeting with writers of Civilta Cattolica the Pope reflected at length on the importance of poetry, art and pioneering intellectual research, as the magazine seeks to build bridges with many peoples and cultures. Civilta Cattolica was founded in 1850 and originally available only in Italian. It is now adding editions in English, French, Spanish and Korean. Francis also sent the review a hand-signed note. Saying a copy of the magazine “if often on my desk,” he described its history as a boat’s voyage on the open seas, saying writers must never to be afraid of the storms, but proceed courageously, guided by the Spirit, into uncharted waters.

BRIEF TAKES FOR THURSDAY….

POPE FRANCIS ENCOURAGED THE DELEGATION FROM THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE to cultivate justice and foster accord, saying “the fight against anti-Semitism can benefit from effective instruments, such as information and formation.” The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,”

IN HIS REMARKS TO THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION as they meet in plenary session, the Holy Father urged all those involved in Catholic education to be builders of a more united and peaceful world, especially when educating the younger generations. Educational institutes have meaning only in relation to the formation of the person, he stressed. Another of your prime missions, he said, is to offer horizons that are open to transcendence. Francis also stressed the need for a culture of dialogue, saying our world has become a global village in which each person belongs to humanity and shares in the hope for a better future for the whole family of nations.

THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES has issued a statement following its summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism which was held in Rome this week. In it the participants resolve “to combat these crimes against humanity through comprehensive efforts that involve all stakeholders around the world.”… We, the undersigned participants of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Summit on Organ Trafficking,  resolve to combat these  crimes against humanity through comprehensive efforts that involve all stakeholders around the world.

Poverty, unemployment, and the lack of socioeconomic opportunities are factors that make persons vulnerable to organ trafficking and human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal.  Destitute individuals are victimized  in schemes of organ trafficking  when induced to sell their organs in a desperate search for a better life. Similarly, desperate are the patients who are willing to pay large amounts and travel to foreign destinations as transplant tourists to obtain an organ that may keep them alive— oblivious of the short and long-term health  consequences  of  commercial  transplantation.  Unscrupulous  brokers  and  health  care  professionals  make  organ  trafficking possible,  disregarding the dignity  of human beings. FOR FULL STATEMENT: http://www.news.va/en/news/vatican-organ-trafficking-summit-issues-statement

POPE FRANCIS GRANTS PRE-TRIP INTERVIEW TO JESUIT JOURNAL

POPE FRANCIS GRANTS PRE-TRIP INTERVIEW TO JESUIT JOURNAL

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called making war in the name of religion “satanic” and a “blasphemy.”

His words came in an interview with the Jesuit Catholic journal La Civilta Cattolica ahead of his ecumenical apostolic trip to Sweden. The interview was conducted by Father Ulf Jonsson S.J., the director of the Swedish cultural journal of the Jesuits, Signum.

Pope Francis mentioned the recent interreligious meeting for peace in Assisi, which he called “very important.”

“All of us talked of peace and we asked for peace,” – the Pope said – “ We together said strong words for  peace, what the religions truly want.”

When asked about the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East, Pope Francis called the region “a land of martyrs.”

“I believe that the Lord does not leave his people on their own,” said the Holy Father. “He will not abandon them. When we read of the hard trials of the people of Israel in the Bible or remember the trials of the martyrs, we see how the Lord always comes to the aid of his people.”

The purpose of the trip to Sweden is to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and much of the discussion in the interview covered ecumenical affairs.

Speaking about the mutual enrichment possible between Christian communities, the Pope was asked what Catholics could learn from Lutherans.

“Two  words  come  to  my  mind:  ‘reform’ and  ‘Scripture’,” – Pope Francis said – “I will try to explain. The first is the word ‘reform’.  At the beginning, Luther’s was a gesture of reform in a difficult time for the Church. Luther wanted to remedy a complex situation.  Then this gesture —also  because  of  the  political  situations,  we  think  also  of  the cuius  regio  eius religio (whose realm , his religion) —became a ‘state’ of separation, and not a process of reform of the whole Church, which is fundamental,  because the Church is semper reformanda (always  reforming).”

“The second  word  is  ‘Scripture’,  the  Word  of  God,” – the Pope continued – “Luther took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people. Reform and Scripture are two things that we can deepen by looking at the Lutheran tradition. The General  Congregations  before  the  Conclave comes  to  mind and how the request for a reform was alive in our discussions.”

The Holy Father was later asked about how the ecumenical movement can move forward. He responded by saying “theological dialogue must continue,” and pointing to the Joint Declaration on Justification as an important point, but added “it will not be easy to go forward because of the different ways of understanding some  theological questions.”

“Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift towards common prayer and the works of mercy — work done together to help the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned,” – Pope Francis said – “To do  something  together is a high and effective form of dialogue.   I also think about education.  It is important to work together and not in a sectarian way. There is a policy we should have clear in every case: to proselytize in the ecclesial field is a sin.”

The full text of the interview can be found on the website of La Civiltà Cattolica here: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articoli_download/extra/Interview_with_PF.pdf

ENVIRONMENT ENCYCLICAL “IS FOR EVERYONE” SAYS FRANCIS – PROTECTING THE WHOLE OF CREATION

I have had to schedule even my bedtime these past few days as they have been super-filled with events – interviews, dinners, speeches and committee meetings – and friends in town. And they have also been super happy days.

This morning was quite special as I accompanied 9 members of the USA Water Polo Team for a three-hour visit of Vatican City and the gardens and then St. Peter’s Basilica. We took tons of photos and one of the guys has a GoPro camera and video – an awesone piece of techology – I just may have to get one!

Our guide was Santiago Perez who heads the Vatican’s Sports Desk at the Council for the Laity.  He was super and the whole morning meant a lot to all of us. I think the team was delightfully surprised to learn the Vatican had a Sports Desk – founded by our most athletic recent Pope, St. John Paul in 1994. I told them to do some PR for this office – let people know!

Here is just one photo from the morning – we are at the replica of the Grotto of Lourdes in the gardens:

20150615_113555

I have been preparibg some scripts for “At Home” and for an interview I have tomorrow moring for “Vatican Insider” so have had little time to dedicate to this column. However, in view of the publication on Thursday of the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, “Laudatio si,” I thought the Pope’s  brief words at the Angelus and an editorial from Civilta Cattolica, a highly respected, very authoriative Jesuit fortnightly  – might be helpful as a prelude to the document.

ENVIRONMENT ENCYCLICAL “IS FOR EVERYONE” SAYS FRANCIS

Pope Francis has invited everyone to pay attention to environmental issues.

Speaking after the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said his first encyclical will be published on Thursday, and he said: “This encyclical is aimed at everyone”

Calling on everyone to accompany this event with renewed attention to environmental degradation, and the need to act to salvage one’s territory, the Pope said of his encyclical: “Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has entrusted to us.”

The document entitled “Laudato Si’, On the Care of Our Common Home” will be launched at a Vatican news conference this week.

The Pope’s appeal followed a reflection on the Gospel reading of the day that speaks of the seed that sprouts and grows and of the mustard seed which is the smallest of all seeds but becomes the largest of plants.

Francis said that through these images Jesus speaks to us of strength of God’s life-giving Word, and of how Christ’s love transforms that what is small and modest into something that makes the whole world and all of history ferment.

And reminding those present to always carry a pocket-sized copy of the Gospel, and to read a passage every day, the Pope said in the Gospel is the strength that makes the Kingdom of God germinate and sprout within us.

Above all – he said – the two parables teach us something important: the Kingdom of God is a gift of the Lord, but it requires our collaboration.

He said that although our contribution may appear meagre before the complexity of problems in the world, thanks to God’s love each seed of goodness will sprout and grow, and this – Pope Francis said – gives life to hope; notwithstanding the injustice and pain we may come across, the seed of charity and peace will yield its fruits thanks to the mysterious love of God.

PROTECTING THE WHOLE OF CREATION

A service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out

Pope Francis’ Encyclical on ecology will be published soon. With its publication, the Church’s Magisterium takes the environmental issue to the heart of its social doctrine. The Editorial summarizes the ecological path which the Popes have indicated in the last 50 years until today. In fact, at the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis said that «to guard the entire Creation» is «a service which the Bishop of Rome is called to do». Pope Francis has always strived for the harmony between all living beings: he has an anthropological, but not anthropocentric view. His commitment leads us towards an ecological spirituality which is a spiritual and sacramental life that is not alienated from the fact that we inhabit the created world as our «home». The editorial is an excellent background to the long awaited encyclical letter of Pope Francis on ecology that will be released this coming Thursday at the Vatican.

http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articoli_download/extra/Editorial-ENG.pdf